ABB is entering into a strategic partnership with US-based startup Scalable Robotics, to enhance its portfolio of user-friendly robotic welding systems. Through 3D vision and embedded process understanding, the Scalable Robotics technology allows customers to easily program welding robots without the need for coding. ABB Technology Ventures (ATV), the venture capital unit of ABB, will be the lead investor in Scalable’s seed funding investment round. ABB did not disclose the level or the terms of the investment.
The investment is another milestone in ABB’s ecosystem strategy of partners who provide easy-to-use solutions for a variety of applications and industries.
“Businesses are looking to robotics to help build resilience, flexibility and efficiency in the face of global challenges including labor shortages, disrupted supply chains and uncertainty,” says Marc Segura, president, Robotics Division at ABB. “In the US alone, it’s estimated there’ll be a shortage of 400,000 welders by 2024. To tackle this, we need to aid the adoption of robots by providing technology that is simple to use and easy to program, enabling manufacturers to easily introduce automated solutions that can weld more parts in less time while minimizing scrap and maximizing quality.”
Scalable’s technology enhances ABB’s existing portfolio of no-code programming applications that help to remove the need for specialized programming knowledge. The Scalable platform allows a welder to teach a task to the robot by pointing to where the weld should be applied, with the robot learning the path on its own. The platform features a 3-D camera in a protective box attached to the robot end-of-arm tooling and uses a touchscreen interface to guide the welder through the scan, teach, validate and tuning steps.
The welder teaches the robot the positions of the welds by clicking a handheld stylus to indicate the desired approach, path, and departure points of the weld. The platform automatically generates a weld path that is validated within RobotStudio, ABB’s leading simulation and programming software. The operator makes any final modifications before the robot auto-tunes the program and sends it to the robot controller so the weld can be performed.
“We founded Scalable Robotics on the premise that industrial robots are tools that should be available to enterprises of all sizes and levels of technical sophistication,” says Tom Fuhlbrigge, founder and CEO of Scalable Robotics. “Our novel human-robot interaction techniques enable people who know the arc welding process to intuitively show the robot what needs to be done with no robot experience required. We’re very excited to join forces with ABB – they are the ideal partner to help bring this technology to the market on a global scale.”